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How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D

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Ali Hassan
How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 3:50:16 am

Hello,

I recently purchased a Cannon 550D and with that a 50mm 1.4 USM lens for my short film that I would be filming because I was on a budget and this was one of the better Video Dslr's out der!

Anyways the video quality in meduim to good lighthing is amazing but when it comes down to low-light I see a lot of noise in the final product so wanted some help.

In low-light I make sure I dont go over ISO 400, well I could do IS0 200 but then the video image gets dark because of the lack of good light so ISO 400 is what I do and the Apperture is at 1.4 with the shutter speed at 1/30.

Can I do anything different to reduce the noise factor with my video DSLR?

-A


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Norman Pogson
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 2:19:11 pm

I'm using a 7D and have found I can use up to iso 1600 and get acceptable results, however the largest cause for digital noise, apart from insane levels of iso, is incorrect exposure.

Take your time with the scenes and meter them accurately, if you do not have access to a light meter, try different metering modes on your camera, such as, Evaluative or Center weighted.

Look for problems areas in the scene from an exposure point of view, maybe try to dial in some exposure compensation. Other than that it will be a software solution for noise, or more lights.

My Canon 7D Blog


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Uli Plank
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 3:12:13 pm

And IMHO the best software out there (if needed) is Neatvideo.

Director of the Institute of Media Research (IMF) at Braunschweig University of Arts


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Phil Balsdon
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 10:40:28 pm

Another way to check exposure is to take a quick still frame and then review it using the Histogram function.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/


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Steve Crow
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 5:06:18 pm

The shutter speed should be set a 2 times your frame rate so if you are shooting at 24 frames per second then your shutter should be a 50 (1/50th) and if you are shooting at 30 frames per second your shutter speed should be at 1/60th or thereabouts.

You probably lowered the shutter speed to get more light into the camera but that can lead to jittery footage. When I film I consider my shutter speed as "locked" meaning I can only change the aperture and ISO to get a good exposure.


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 6:20:01 pm

@Steve:

You are absolutely correct, I shot at 24fps and I set the shutter to 1/30 to get more light into the shoot and the way u explain it that causes noise I reckon.

I will re-shoot the sequence with 1/50 as the shutter speed and see what happens, you know the funny thing is that all these low light videos shot by 550D look amazing on youtube when posted by other people but when u actually get down to doing it yourself it doesn't quite come out the way you want it to.. :-sigh !


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 6:42:02 pm

@Everyone:

I think at the end of the i might end up buying the neat-video plug-in to reduce the noise factor coz even at 24fps 1/50 shutter speed and f1.4 I see some noise.

Do u guys think i need a more power-full lens than than the 50mm 1.4 that i am using to get the best low light performance?



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Steve Crow
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 7:13:37 pm

No 1.4 is a very fast nice lens...there are 1.2 50mm but you would have so much difficulty getting focus with that lens that I couldn't recommend it.


What's the overall lighting like in your scene? Are you filming in a basement with all the lights turned off or are you outside in the sunshine?

I wouldn't recommend a plugin to solve this problem for you...there's something else much more fundamental going on. Why not post a link to the video so that we all can see exactly what it is you are talking about, it's hard to provide feedback without something concrete to view.


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Steve Crow
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 6:43:14 pm

Hi Ali
Just to be clear I don't think the shutter speed issue is related to the noise problems you are having...that's probably an ISO in combination with F-stop issue.

I'm just thinking off the top of my head here but I wonder if this may also have to do with your editing workflow.

If you film at full 1080p in the camera but then upload the video to YouTube at a much lower resolution/quality setting then it would tend to "soften" the video and hide things like noise.

So when you are looking other other videos on YouTube or Vimeo see if you can determine what resolution/quality settings/format is being displayed and what resolution they originally shot the video in.

For instance, when you look at the YouTube player you can see in the gray control bar area just below the video you can often change the quality of the video you are seeing from standard definition all the way up to HD (720p)

So if are watching a video at low resolution on YouTube (like 360p) it may not be that the video is any less noisy than yours it's that the noise is being "blurred out" you might say because of the low playback resolution.

I hope that makes some sense to you. (and again I can't say for sure what's going on with your video but these ideas occurred to me and I am sure others will chime in here with ideas too)


Steve


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Norman Pogson
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 11:13:07 pm

Ali, your lens is stellar, I'm suggesting checking the exposure, another poster suggested taking a still and checking the histogram, which is great advice.

At the end of the day iso 800 should be good, your lens is good, go and buy some cheap LED or uplighters to give you a better chance at a quality image.

Check out the LED lights at http://shop.ebay.com/easysupply/m.html?_nkw=126+led&_sacat=0&_trksid=p3911....

My Canon 7D Blog


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Chris Tompkins
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 4, 2010 at 11:56:20 pm

You can use ISO's well above 400 and still have great looking video.

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 5, 2010 at 2:59:59 am

@Everyone

Wow! First of all I must say that the responses I have received in this forums are beyond outstanding from everyone!! I am so glad I posted my issue over here..

@Steve:
Yeah I think I will post my youtbe link here so that yo guys can see the videos, coz right now I agree with you its like shooting an arrow in the dark!! and thanks for retaining my confidence in my lens :-)

Try this link, some videos are private coz I didnt want anyone to see them but a couple I shot last night should be public to all, lemme know if you guys have any problems viewing them..












The link below was the first test sequence I had shot for my film to get the feel of the lighting...









-A







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clyde villegas
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 12, 2010 at 5:55:45 am

After seeing how much the video skews, I think I'll stick with the camcorder + lens adapter setup for a while.

ut in omnibus glorificetur Deus


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 5, 2010 at 7:59:10 am

Can it be the Sharpness or the contrast settings on my camera, I have them set to the default value and I havent touched them.

I might play around with them when I go back home today...


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 5, 2010 at 8:05:39 am

Can it be the Sharpness or the contrast settings on my camera, I have them set to the default value and I havent touched them.

I might play around with them when I go back home today...


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Steve Crow
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 5, 2010 at 3:08:48 pm

Yeah, in terms of your camera settings - for a more filmic look dial the contrast all the way down, dial the sharpness all the way down, and then dial the saturation down two ticks. Of course you should shoot a 24fps and with a 50th shutter speed.

Regarding the video samples to my eye I am not seeing grain as much as a general "murkiness" and a green color cast. So go ahead and raise your ISO up as high as 800 - also be sure to do a manual white balance to to address the color cast.


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Kris Merkel
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 5, 2010 at 9:32:01 pm

In your menu settings, turn off Highlight tone priority. I am able to shoot with the same lens in low light at iso800 with little noise.







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Steve Crow
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 5, 2010 at 9:51:23 pm

Yes, I totally agree.


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 6, 2010 at 4:36:19 am

Lemme try all this and see if I can get better results!! All this info just makes me wana leave office now and head back home to play around with the camera but alas! it has to wait i reckon :-)

Also other topic that I have been reading about are the custom picture styles that you can download and upload using the EOS utility to get that "Cine" look, did any one of you gys try it out on ur T2i??


http://marvelsfilm.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/canon-7d-picture-style-with-cin...


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Steve Crow
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 6, 2010 at 6:37:33 am

I've downloaded a few but for now am just making adjustments to the camera settings and then grading in post.


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Richard van den Boogaard
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 6, 2010 at 7:58:03 am

The 2x framerate is indeed a golden rule for shooting with DSLRs. However, rules can be broken, given certain circumstances.

If low light is your issue and your subjects aren't moving very fast, you can choose to lower your shutter to 1/30th. Normally this would result in some motion blur, but this is much less worse than having lots of noise from high ISO selections.

Richard van den Boogaard
cameraman / editor / video marketing consultant

Branded Channels
W: http://www.brandedchannels.com


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Richard van den Boogaard
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 6, 2010 at 7:59:53 am

Jittery footage is quite the opposite effect - if you increase the shutter, you will get stroboscopic effects. Lowering the shutter speed will result in a bit of motion blur...

Richard van den Boogaard
cameraman / editor / video marketing consultant

Branded Channels
W: http://www.brandedchannels.com


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Brendan Ross
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 20, 2010 at 7:29:21 am

Hi Steve

Please would you clear 1 thing up for me. I'm 550d / T2i user. regarding the rule of double the shutter speed of your fps. Here you talk about 24fps and 1/50. Why would you not use 25fps ? (i presume it's also an option on the 7D.)

thanks
Brendan


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Matias Rispau
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 6, 2010 at 10:29:04 pm

I´m going to give you the trick that I´m using.

I´m shooting a movie with my 7d(550d it´s almost the same in electronics) this days and it consist in a "all night, low light shooting". The true to make your footage usable in post is to get the perfect exposure of your shot, do not under expose "NEVER" because of the limitation of the h.264 codec. The codec gets a little nasty when you try to bring up all the "under exposed image", so try to get the perfect exposure, use the camera metering to guide you "DON´T THRUST ON YOUR EYE" whatching the LCD because they are very bright.

I´m shooting in ISO 1250, you may think "That´s a lot of gain" and yes it´s a lot of noise for the big screen BUT... Im geting a perfect exposure and that lets me work a lot with the footage. Also the trick is... "Do Noise Reduction", I use the "DeNoise" plugin from "Re:vision FX" and it´s... Perfect. The footage looks perfect, the exposure is perfect and the final product looks perfect. The only problem is that Denoising takes time of render but thats an other thing.

Good luck.


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 7, 2010 at 3:22:48 am

@everyone

I am back and I did everything from the 'Faithfull' picture style to the 1/50,f2.0 and I really wana know if you see what I do in my video.
At this point more than technical advice I guess I need another set of eyes to look at my shot and tell me about it coz I think I am being over critical or maybe not! :-)

Here is what I think, in the shot below when I pan to the greener areas the I can see small amount of noise, at this point I don't even know what that is to be honest... so I color corrected it to bring out what I am talking about..its not the best looking correction we may have seen I personally hate it but it shows what I am talking about.

Can you spot the noise in this video or you think I need eye surgery!!

http://www.vimeo.com/13128962


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 7, 2010 at 7:14:29 am

Some say that the so called "noise" that I keep referring to is due to the compression, when I bring it over to my editing software and there isnt any way around it...

If what you guys see is not actual "noise" then I dont think the denoise or the neat video plugins might work or maybe they will.. i duno.

So is there a way around this compression issue or I just have to deal with it?



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Matt Pennington
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 8, 2010 at 8:11:23 pm

Red Giant makes a good denoisier, part of their Key Correct Pro suite. I ran it on some T2i clips and was happy with the results, but it did take a long time to render, and the default values were way to severe.

Matt


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 9, 2010 at 10:03:37 am

Also if u can notice the rolling shutter issue, and if that can be avoided...


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 9, 2010 at 10:10:17 am

@everyone

Another one with the rolling shutter issue @1/50

http://www.vimeo.com/13185990


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Steve Crow
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 7, 2010 at 3:12:06 pm

Hi Ali,

When you say "when I pan to the greener areas" I am not sure what you mean since the whole video has very much of a green tint to it

Maybe if you gave us the timecode on the Vimeo player for the section you are talking about.


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 9, 2010 at 9:26:33 am

@Steve:

Hi!!

This will probably give you the best example of what I am talking about, in this video the "noise"from 0:58 - 1:03 when I pan to a green wall in the hallway.

There isn't much light but that is the problem that I am talking about, you think its just the video compression issue or something I can find a solution to besides lighting up the scene.







PS:I know the shutter setting isnt right, but this was an old video which I had to dig out :-)


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Steve Crow
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 9, 2010 at 5:03:58 pm

That's the "jelly camera" effect and is caused by you moving the camera too fast, a "whip pan" - keep your pans slow and steady and you won't have this issue.


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Ali Hassan
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 11, 2010 at 4:37:58 pm

@Steve

This is the result of all the suggestions :-)

http://www.vimeo.com/13245249


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Steve Crow
Re: How to - Shoot in low light and reduce noise on Cannon 550D
on Jul 11, 2010 at 5:44:54 pm

Good job! Just a couple more suggestion:

At 1:10 the color balance abruptly changes, Final Cut has a match color feature that you could use to get the wall color looking the same in both clips.

Also, check the scene where he is putting his clothes on the hangers in the dresser. There's a cut there that's not matching - somewhere around 1:34/1:35 resulting in a jump cut.

Oh and does the room number matter? If not, I'd cut the tilt up.


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